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Updated Apr 15, 2020

 

AbdoolKarim
Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chair of the COVID-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee in South Africa.

 

“We cannot end lockdown abruptly. It will undo all we have achieved.”

 

South Africa’s efforts to slow down the rate of COVID-19 infections through a strict lockdown is showing promising signs of success, according to Professor Salim Abdool Karim, chair of the COVID-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee. The country has the highest number of confirmed cases in Africa, due in part to its relatively well-developed public healthcare infrastructure allowing for large numbers of people to be tested. Professor Abdool Karim said early and proactive measures by the government bought the country time, but ongoing vigilance was needed. “We cannot end lockdown abruptly. It will undo all we have achieved,” he said. 

 

A health worker fills out documents before performing tests for COVID-19 coronavirus on other health workers at the screening and testing tents set up at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg, on April 15, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP
A health worker fills out documents before performing tests for COVID-19 on other health workers at the screening and testing tents set up at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital on April 15, 2020. (Michele Spatari / AFP)

 

Though the lockdown has been successful in preventing community spread, it has come with a host of other problems. For South Africa’s poorest citizens, many of whom depend on the informal economy or live in rural areas, the lockdown has effectively deprived them of the means to feed their families. While government authorities are preoccupied with the dense urban centers of Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban, enforcing the lockdown in the country’s poorer regions has proven difficult.

 

A large number of the population continues to crowd streets.

 

In Egypt, which has a population of 100 million people and the second-highest number of confirmed cases on the continent, a large number of the population continues to crowd streets and go about their business. This, along with challenges in enforcing curfews in Egypt’s heartland, has raised suspicions that government has drastically under-reported the number of positive cases in the country.

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